Work Header

Another Loss

Work Text:

Amelia regrets the search as soon as she sees the result. It starts with simple curiosity; ever since she finally escaped the train, she has been wondering what became of the girl who saved her. Part of her, deep down, is also a little afraid: Tulip is the only one left on Earth who could judge her for what she has done. So now that she has found somewhere to stay and adjusted to her new life, she resolves to find out.

She isn’t expecting much; a Facebook profile at best, maybe a local news article or two about Tulip’s three-month absence from this world. Instead she is greeted by a headline, bold and unforgiving.

Thirteen-year-old killed in kayak tragedy.

It takes a moment for the reality of those words to set in; in vain hope she opens the article, silently pleading for it to have been someone else, only to freeze at the familiar picture above the victim’s eulogy. The face of Tulip Olsen stares at back her from the screen, and all at once Amelia feels the icy tendrils close around her heart; her and grief are long-time companions, but she has not felt it sting like this in a long time.

She closes the tab with the knowledge she cannot let herself be alone ever again. She voices this later, in private; she knows her roommates all assume different reasons, but they say nothing. Only she knows the truth; a single moment alone and the train will come, and she knows she doesn’t have the strength to refuse it again. When she lies awake at night she can feel it circling, and infinite cars rattle through her dreams.

Amelia feels unwelcome at the graveside. She had hardly known the child for more than an hour during her time on the train, not counting the time spent trailing her, torturing her - she wonders if Tulip would have wanted her here at all, or if she would have sent her away immediately upon arrival.

Her roommates are far back, unknowingly keeping watch for the source of her temptation, as she kneels and lays a handful of tulips on the stone (it only seemed appropriate). She jumps at the sound of approaching footsteps, the flowers falling from her hands. For a moment she fears her visit has coincided with a familial one, and she will have to explain herself, but then she looks up.

Standing over her are two children. One, a boy with dark hair, is hanging back, an uncertain look on his face; the other is already crying quietly. Her whole body is covered in chrome, her face a perfect mirror of Tulip’s, and immediately Amelia knows they know about the train already.

So she tells them both about the Tulip she knew; about the girl who refused to give up on her friends, who stormed the engine against all odds, and who broke through the ice around Amelia’s heart and showed her the truth. The chrome girl in turn talks about how Tulip set her free, and let her become her own person. She gets more choked up with each word.

The rattle of wheels on rails cuts her short. Ahead of her a whole row of headstones vanish, replaced with track; behind her companions talk amongst themselves, their attention divided. And slowly the train pulls into its latest station. Above the door is not a location, but a name; Tulip, and all three visitors walk under it.